In 2013 David was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Sadly, three years later, David was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. His wife Maria shares their Hospice experience:
“It all ends the same way but everyone’s journey is different”
“When you are our ages and have been married for nearly 17 years, you have retirement dreams. It’s so difficult to see the person you shared those dreams with slipping away both physically and emotionally,” she explains.
“Our referral to Heart of Kent Hospice has been the best thing that could have happened to us both at this time. The Heart of Kent Dementia Nurse Specialist came to the house. From then on there has always been someone on the end of the phone. It’s a huge support,” said Maria.
“They signposted us to services that could help us live our lives almost as actively as we were used to.”
One thing that David and Maria enjoyed was the Hospice’s Dementia cafés on the first Saturday of the month.
“For me it was lovely to meet and talk to other carers. I could ask questions, the volunteers and staff were so knowledgeable. I knew David was safe. Also to see him drawing, which was once a real passion, was truly uplifting,” she said. In January 2018 Maria and David were asked if they wanted to take part in the Hospice's Making Memories® programme. Every fortnight they joined four other carers and their loved ones with a Dementia diagnosis for a day at the Hospice.
“I met an amazing group of people, but so much more than that; the Dementia diagnoses were all different so in the carers group we could share our experiences and learn about the next stages of our journey. I was the only one who had used respite care so I could help allay the sense of guilt you feel when your loved one receives care from someone that isn’t you,” explains Maria. Most importantly, she says: “We were reminded that we were doing a great job and to take care of ourselves so we could care for our loved ones.”
Whilst Maria attended the carers support group, David was in the safe hands of the dementia specialist volunteers. He took part in various dementia friendly activities and as an animal lover particularly enjoyed petting the volunteer dog!